Every student, young or old has exam fear and panic attacks before exams. Every well-informed person knows that fear is the basic ingredient for great achievements. Getting through exams with sufficient marks is an achievement, perhaps, the best memorable achievement among many others, in one’s life. Why, then, is there so much talk about exam-fear ahead of forthcoming exams?
Out of all who prepare for the exams, a few get over-ridden with fear and the fear becomes uncontrollable in such a way they exhibit the following:
- Dry Mouth
- Trembling hands
- Blank and empty feeling
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty in speaking
- Inferiority Complex
- Confusion and hopelessness
- Increased palpitations and sweating profusely
When exam fear becomes uncontrollable and when conscious attempts to reduce panic attacks in children, are not made, the aspirant student may not answer questions in his answer sheets; may write answers but the answers may be incomplete, out of context, wrong; may not answer any question and keep the answer papers blank; may skip the exam on some pretext or the other; may even take extreme steps to destroy oneself.
As for students resorting to self destruction and suicidal attempts out of exam fear, one has to be more sensible. The general tendency of the public and news media is to attribute such acts of an youngster to exam fear. This is basically incorrect because there is an involvement of other factors which may lead to suicidal tendencies.
These other factors may include family environs, neighborhood influences, and widely published reports of suicides across country due to various reasons like failures in farming sector, industry, competitive ventures, marriage problems, diseases and the like. Coupled with multiple shadow influences, an already depressed person might take to extreme steps as a way of escapade. These important aspects must not be ignored while dealing with exam phobia in students.
Commonly traced reasons for fear of exams can be summarized as follows:
- Lack of self confidence: Every individual is capable of facing situations and making achievements. A child who has cleared previous examinations is definitely capable of it, else he could not have cleared those tests and cross that level. This is the first and foremost realization each and every individual student has to imbibe.Growth from childhood to adulthood is the result of a natural ability present in every individual. Nobody should doubt this inherent ability. Education and learning, attending schools and colleges and facing examinations are all essential parts of this natural ability. Once this basic truth is recognized, an individual becomes confident of his ability and power to face situations in the journey of life.
- Memory problems and forgetfulness: Memory problems and forgetfulness are commonly cited by students, parents and teachers as reasons for exam fears. It appears that there is a total misunderstanding about what constitutes memory and how forgetfulness takes place. A scientific evaluation of both the processes is necessary to find solutions to these fears. Mind is an essential part of the body. Every healthy body is endowed with a healthy mind. The brain is the work-shop of every mental activity and a healthy brain ensures a healthy mind. The process of intellectual activity is called cognitive function of the central nervous system (brain centres). It starts with sensation and images. When a person sees or hears some thing, the first stage is sensation and then an image of the object one sees or hears takes place. That leads to perception and conception of the object. There, ideas and meanings are invoked which then get absorbed as memory. Power of conception enables reproduction of the memory through words. The cognitive process is natural faculty of brain and hence no one needs to have to concern about memory and reproduction of what is stored in memory unless the nervous function is blurred or retarded.What is essential to uphold this natural process is to ensure that while reading and learning, images and perceptions do take place according to what the learning material contains. In simple terms, it is devoting of attention to what is being learnt. Worries and concerns of various nature are causes that might blur or retard attention. If these factors are restricted any healthy person’s memory could be bright without forgetfulness of any sort.
- Fear of adverse reaction from parents and teachers: Youngsters fear that their parents and teachers might blame or accuse them if they fail in exams. Young students under the care of ill-informed parents become target of such blames and accusations. Here both parents and teachers should refrain from scolding, accusing or blaming children for inadequacy in learning and encourage them with positive suggestions and advice. On the other hand, children should understand that once they properly attend to their lessons and classes, they are sure enough to pass tests and exams. The parent-teacher combine has moral responsibility in this context.
- Past experiences: Some students remember past experiences of failure in exams. When such students face exams, they fear that they may fail again. This is a common phenomenon. Truth has to prevail in such situations.Previous failure might have happened due to circumstances prevailing at that particular time; the student has to reaffirm his strengths and realize that the past is gone and that she/he is in the present to face the future. Since the student has prepared well for the coming exam, there never exists any chance for repeated failure. Parents as well as teachers have a role to play here in convincing the child.
- Health problems: General health problems may not create hassles in general study and preparing for exams. However, whenever health becomes a real problem, the issue has to be adequately taken care of by appropriate medical treatments.
Top tips for students to eliminate exam fear
- Never under estimate yourself.
- Make study a routine practice, avoid the tendency to study only when exams are near.
- Do not see others writing in the examination hall. Don’t pay attention to the writing speed etc. of others present in the exam hall.
- Do not bother about others asking for additional supplementary sheets.
- Relax, set your mind to proceed in good speed and spirit till the end of time.
- Never go blank on seeing tough questions - just skip that question and go ahead with the next simple one. In the mean time, your brain will become energetic enough to answer any sort of questions in an easy manner.
- Take a snack break, listen to some soothing music in between study times.
Top tips for parents to eliminate exam fear in children
- Teach your children to be relaxed but not lethargic.
- Teach them to ask questions, explore, read more books – never allow them to learn by rote.
- Encourage them.
- Make them attempt practice test papers several times before exams.
- Do not interfere while they are studying.
- Do not force children to achieve the unachievable.
- Allow the child to take short breaks in between study times. He could listen to some music or have a snack break in between study times.
- Teach the child relaxation and breathing techniques. To read more on relaxation techniques Click Here
Eliminating exam fear in children can be achieved by the combined effort of parents, teachers and the children themselves.
Parents, teachers and students who need counseling and advice can call the toll-free number of the “Zindagi Se Dosti Campaign” – A Times Of India Initiative for preventing student suicides.
Call (+91)(022)(25706000) or 1860 266 2345 toll free if you know anybody who might be in depression or needs help.